Curlin turned in a six furlong work at Churchill Downs June 2.

Curlin turned in a six furlong work at Churchill Downs June 2.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

Curlin Gears Up for Stephen Foster

Curlin works seven furlongs in 1:24.60 as he prepares for Stephen Foster.

(from Churchill Downs)

Stonestreet Stable and Midnight Cry Stable’s Curlin dazzled onlookers with a strong work at Churchill Downs June 2 as the reigning Horse of the Year tuned up for planned run in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 14. 

Curlin worked a strong seven furlongs in the company of a stablemate for trainer Steve Asmussen and covered the distance over a “fast” track in 1:24.60. 

Curlin had regular exercise and workout rider Carlos Rosas in the saddle and worked alongside Stonestreet Stable’s 4-year-old Sonoma Cat around 6:30 a.m.  He covered the seven-furlong distance in fractions of :12.80, :25, :37, :48.80 and 1:12.40.  He galloped out a mile in 1:37.60 and continued his strong gallop-out through a mile and an eighth in 1:51.60.  Sonoma Cat, with Shaun Bridgmohan up, could not keep up with the champion and completed his seven-furlong move in 1:26.20.

“I was very pleased with his effort,” said Asmussen.  “We did plenty with him this morning.  We want him to be sharp going a mile and an eighth.”

The 4-year-old son of Smart Strikehas not competed since he opened his 2008  campaign with a pair of victories in Dubai, with the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29 being his most recent outing.  Asmussen has been training Curlin with an eye toward a return to competition in the Stephen Foster Handicap.  His June 2 work impressed backside observers and indicated that the chestnut colt is right on schedule for his Stephen Foster bid.

“That’s what we’re preparing him for,” said Asmussen.  “I don’t want to take anything for granted.  Nothing’s in the bank.  We want everything to go well, and we’ll worry about everything every day from here to there.”

Curlin’s victory in the Dubai World Cup lifted his career record to 8-1-2 in 11 races and boosted his earnings to $8,807,800, a figure that already ranks as the third highest in North American racing history.